By Mojca Zove
Getting a loan at a bank for your business idea is out - crowdfunding is in. So you’ve decided to launch your business baby via Kickstarter or another crowdfunding platform.
Kickstarter campaigns are won or lost in the first few days of launch, so you need to start with a bang. You have to get trending way before the launch itself and ride that momentum to the finish line. But how exactly do you accomplish that?
Here at KickoffLabs, we’ve helped a myriad of crowdfunding projects blow their funding goals straight out of the water. From 3D laser printers over reusable cotton swabs to magnetic pillow forts - if these projects could make it, so can yours.
The universal secret to all of these campaigns? They built a huge waitlist of people hungry to fund their product before the campaign actually launched. And, not to toot our own horn too loudly, but… they did it with KickoffLabs.
They set up a specific strategy to use KickoffLabs for maximum effect and followed it through to the end. These are the daily steps they took to see their pre-launch waitlist grow to successful heights.
Let’s go back to one of the aforementioned campaigns that kicked butt: magnetic pillow forts.
Yep. Within the first four days, 7,858 backers pledged almost 2.4 million dollars. The campaign went like gangbusters because parents recognized the value of this idea. And that was only possible because The Fort got the message just right on their KickoffLabs landing page:
Here are the ways in which this landing page works and beautifully conveys its message:
Find the core value in your product idea and convey it in the simplest, clearest, shortest way possible - et voilá, you have your message that you’ll build your landing page on (on Day 3).
Your domain doesn’t necessarily need to be the same as your product or brand name. Especially since it’s getting more and more difficult to find available “.com”-domains these days. You might have to get creative. Try adding “get” to your preferred domain idea, just like getthefort.com did. We recommend Namecheap to secure your domain.
Start with a landing page that conveys your message to grow a basic waitlist. Tell visitors that the sooner they get on the waitlist, the more of a heads-up they’ll get on early-bird discounts. They can even move up the waitlist by sharing the campaign with their friends.
For now, keep the signup and thank you pages super simple. You’ll be filling out the campaign and adding awesome features day by day.
Now that you have the landing page ready and waiting for people to sign up to the waitlist, you’ll want to set up the automatic email response for them.
To crush the competition, you need to know what you’re up against and what’s working for them - and how to set yourself and your message apart.
Check out their website. What is their message, how have they set things up? What do you like about their strategy? What do you think could be improved and why?
Do they have a Kickstarter of their own? Sign up for their email list. Maybe even make a pledge for their product (if already available) to get the real inside scoop.
Lurk in their Facebook groups. What are people saying about them? What do people seem to like or dislike about their product or strategy?
You’ll be setting up Facebook ads in a few days. They will work better the more specifically you target the right audience.
For example, if you’re selling toys for kids, you can target moms of young children who participate in online Facebook parenting groups.
Remember – targeting everyone equals targeting nobody. The more defined your audience is, the better.
With your domain and message set up, it’s time to create some social media accounts. You can always start with Facebook - everyone and their parents’ dog is on Facebook these days.
But there might be other social media platforms where your target audience likes to hang out. Instagram is great if your audience likes stunning visuals, for example. YouTube is popular with people who prefer to inform themselves visually rather than read long articles. TikTok tends to cater to a younger crowd.
Just try not to go overboard. You don’t need an account on every single social media platform. Cultivating and growing your social media following takes a lot of time and energy. Focus on the platform(s) where most of your target audience hangs out online. Less is more. Quality over quantity.
From the ads, send people to your landing page to see if they sign up. (If the conversion rate is low, you might want to set up A/B-testing for your landing page, too.)
Don’t scrimp here. The success of your campaign lies in getting the word out, and some of the following steps are based on the results of your ads and testing. If it’s within your budget, we suggest starting with at least $50 per day ad spend.
Don’t fret if that’s not within your budget. Go with as much as you can. Just keep in mind that, even though $50 per day may initially sound like a lot of money, Facebook ads are actually the cheapest way to get the word out to the most and best-targeted people - and therefore the most effective way.
You’re (hopefully) going to be communicating in bulk with the people who sign up for your list, which will be a lot easier to handle with the right email marketing service. Here’s a comparison of the top 15 email marketing services to help you find the right one for you.
Connect the service of your choice to KickoffLabs (we integrate with many of them) and import all leads you’ve captured so far. All new leads will be captured directly on this list.
Here’s a sequence of 5 Email Templates to Send After Someone Signs up to Your Giveaway as an example of how to set up an auto response welcome sequence to new signups.
Take at least fifteen to thirty minutes every day from now on to check in on the communities where your target audience hangs out, for example in Facebook groups, popular blogs, maybe even on Reddit, etc.
At least be an active listener, but ideally engage with them in as non-spammy a way as possible! Engage like a friend, answer their questions, help them out - and then slip in a mention of your product where appropriate and helpful, for example by sharing screenshots of your product.
Once you’ve engaged with them and if people seem interested, you can start asking for feedback and letting them know how they can sign up.
Use what you’ve learned so far from split testing your ads and engaging with the community to write your video script. Speak the language of your target customers to get your message across.
Yes, this is going to take some effort (which is why we recommend taking two days for this step). But if you’re thinking of skipping the video in your launch, know this: that launch will be far less epic without a video.
Read all about the 3 Key Elements for a Great Kickstarter Video Script here.
A compelling video is instrumental for your Kickstarter success. Done right, it’ll evoke emotions that people won’t be able to resist for themselves, or their family and friends.
That doesn’t mean it has to be a Hollywood-esque production of the highest quality, top-caliber acting or special effects. As long as you manage to capture those emotions, you can keep it very simple. Demonstrate your target audience’s pain point and show why your product is the best way to soothe that pain.
Read Best Kickstarter Videos and Tips To Create Your Own in 2021 for more information.
Before putting the video out into the wide world for all to see, send it to the people who’ve already signed up for your waitlist - you know, those people who are obviously so excited for your product, they didn’t even need a video to be convinced.
Ask them for feedback on the video. Not only will it (hopefully) get your waitlisters more excited about the product while helping you get the video just right - it’ll also build your relationship with the people already on your list.
Google ads tend to be more expensive than Facebook ads, which is why we started with the latter. You’ve had a week to test your Facebook ads and get a better idea of what images and wording work best to get your message across. Now use those insights to start a Google ads campaign. If you don’t know how, check out this Beginner’s Guide to Using Google Ads (Previously Google Adwords)
You can add a so-called retargeting pixel to your KickoffLabs campaign. This pixel allows you to market your launch on both Facebook and Google to people who were interested enough to visit your landing page but didn’t sign up - yet. It is by far the most effective way to generate new leads with paid advertising.
The pixel lets you remind them of their interest in a myriad of different ways and will help you coax them back and sign up for good.
Find out everything you need to know about the retargeting pixel and how it works here.
None of this “@yahoo.com” or “@hotmail.com” business, please. If you want people (and their inboxes) to take your launch seriously, you’ll set up a business email address, for example with G Suite. “firstname.lastname@example.org” or something similar - no exceptions!
Not convinced? Here’s why a professional email address is so important.
Again, these don’t have to be perfect Hollywood productions. All you need are videos that will educate potential customers about
Your main goal with these videos is to convey your trustworthiness and fill people with the confidence to hit that “Fund Me” button when the time is right.
Give your campaign a nice boost by telling the visitors on your landing page that if they sign up now, they can immediately start accumulating points, for example for sharing the campaign with friends and family.
Collecting points will give them a chance to win free products when you launch. And even if they don’t win, they’ll get access to the product(s) sooner than others. Here’s all about how this points system works with KickoffLabs.
Now that the competition is set up to work, let people know about it - especially those already on your waitlist. They’re already fans and will be your greatest advocates who spread the word for you.
This should be fairly easy if you’ve been engaging with your community. Make a list of at least 25 of your favorite blogs or websites that cater to the same audience but don’t compete with you. Reach out to their owners and pitch them a customized idea for their audience. This will give you the opportunity to increase your exposure with the right people.
Influencers are experts at getting the word out - that is their job description, after all. Ideally, you’ll have engaged and nurtured a relationship with these influencers in your communities, too. Please don’t ask them to share or promote your launch if you’ve never interacted with them before. Rather, find influencers whose content you’ve engaged with by sharing or commenting.
If you’ve been investing in their community, they’ll know who you are.
Read our Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing for more tips.
You’re on the home stretch. Time to let everyone you’ve ever emailed know that you’re launching your Kickstarter project soon - and that you want them on the pre-launch list, which will give them chances to receive all kinds of goodies.
Okay, maybe not everyone. But you might be surprised at who ends up being interested. So unless they’ve explicitly asked you never to contact them again, you should at least consider also sending it to your hairdresser’s cousin who had that question about that thing however many years ago. If they’re not interested, it’s up to them to not open or delete that one email from you.
Text messages are a great way to make it as easy as possible for people to connect with you - we’re on our phone for hours a day anyway. Add “phone number” as an optional field in the signup form and invite people who’ve already signed up to get your text messages.
KickoffLabs has an SMS contest feature that lets you automate texting with your audience. As an alternative to SMS, you can get them to connect with you via Facebook Messenger or Telegram.
Reward your waitlisters who have been sharing your stuff like crazy - thereby outing themselves as super fans - by setting up a private and exclusive Facebook group for them.
Invite them specifically and give them more material to share. Help them be more efficient at getting the word out while making them feel special about it.
Create a series of emails to build momentum for your Kickstarter launch. Set them up to send out to your list
before the launch. Always remind readers to share share share and thus win points to win freebies or be eligible for the grand prize. This will help build even more hype around your launch.
Now that everything is set up, you’ll want to keep the KickoffLabs Campaign going for as long as necessary to build your email list. Always assume that not everyone who signed up will automatically become a paying backer when you launch.
In our experience, campaigns on KickoffLabs see a conversion rate of XY% on average from their pre-launch email list (though keep in mind that this always depends on differing factors like niche, pricing, target audience, etc.). Start with that to calculate how many leads you’ll want on your email list in order to launch a campaign that has a good chance of being profitable from day one. Also, check out our Resources Section for a ton of tips on marketing your campaign.
Once you’ve built up your email list to a size where the campaign promises to be profitable, it’s time to launch on Kickstarter.